The Department of Defense (DoD) is facing several unprecedented technological advances: Artificial intelligence applications and 5G already are transforming possibilities, and quantum computing is on the horizon. Each of these brings with it advantages as well as both first- and second-order risks. Harnessing innovation has been under the microscope, with special attention on innovation silos; however, analyses often focus solely internally (such as breaking down barriers between combatant commands1) or gaze solely outward (such as initiatives for implementing “a systematic and proactive approach with industry”2). Achieving success in this area is an organizational concern, but the responsibility and potential for it rest across the shoulders of every member. Because the human mind—as powerful as it is—is not singularly equipped to understand and address all of these developments and associated concerns simultaneously, the key to success lies in strategic, interpersonal collaboration.
A case that changed both technological and strategic options for the military sets the scene.
1. Gen Joseph F. Dunford, USMC, “The Character of War and Strategic Landscape Have Changed,” Joint Force Quarterly 89, no. 2 (April 2018).
2. Lt Gen Darrell K. Williams, USA, DLA Strategic Plan 2018–2026 (Defense Logistics Agency, 2018).
3. “San Joaquin County Biographies: Benjamin Holt,” in George H. Tinkham, History of San Joaquin County, California.
4. R. M. Wik, “The American Farm Tractor as Father of the Military Tank,” Agricultural-History 54, no. 1 (January 1980): 126–33.
5. Wik, “The American Farm Tractor.”
6. In an effort to keep the machines’ intended use secret, it was claimed they were water tanks bound for British troops in Egypt, giving rise to the name “tank.” Caterpillar Tractor Company Staff, Fifty Years on Tracks (Caterpillar Tractor Company, 1954).
7. M. Strauss, “Ten Inventions That Inadvertently Transformed Warfare,” Smithsonian Magazine, 18 September 2010.
8. Peter J. Denning and Robert Dunham, The Innovator’s Way: Essential Practices for Successful Innovation (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2010).
9. Peter Robinson, Lincoln’s Excavators—The Ruston Years 1875–1930 (Somerset, England: Roundoak Publishing, 2003).
10. Benjamin C. Holt, “Ben C. Holt to Honorable Miles Poindexter, 26 Nov. 1913,” Box 287, Records of the Department of War, Record Group 165, National Archives, Washington, 1913; and Wik, “The American Farm Tractor.”
11. A. J. Smithers, A New Excalibur: The Development of the Tank 1909–1939 (Barnsley, England: Pen & Sword Military Classics, 1986).
12. E. Hawke, book review, “Eyewitness: Being Personal Reminiscences of Certain Phases of the Great War. By Sir Ernest D. Swinton,” The Spectator 149 (5440), 1932.
13. Jaimie Krems and Jason Wilkes, “Why Are Conversations Limited to About Four People? A Theoretical Exploration of the Conversation Size Constraint,” Evolution and Human Behavior 40, no. 2 (September 2018): 140–47; and Jaimie Krems, Robin I. M. Dunbarb, and Steven L. Neuberg, “Something to Talk About: Are Conversation Sizes Constrained by Mental Modeling Abilities?” Evolution and Human Behavior 37, no. 6 (November 2016): 423–28.
14. Denning and Dunham, The Innovator’s Way.
15. Smithers, A New Excalibur.
17. C. P. Fernandez, “Creating Thought Diversity: The Antidote to Group Think,” Journal of Public Health Management & Practice 13, no. 6 (November 2007): 670–71.
18. Torgny Roxå and K. Mårtensson, “Microcultures and Informal Learning: A Heuristic Guiding Analysis of Conditions for Informal Learning in Local Higher Education Workplaces,” International Journal for Academic Development 20, no. 2 (April 2015): 193–205.
19. Smithers, A New Excalibur.
20. Wik, “The American Farm Tractor.”
21. Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
22. Susan T. Fiske, Amy J. Cuddy, and Peter Glick, “Universal Dimensions of Social Cognition: Warmth and Competence,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11, no. 2 (February 2007): 77–83.
23. Susan T. Fiske, Jun Xu, Amy Cuddy, and Peter Glick, “(Dis)respecting versus (Dis)liking: Status and Interdependence Predict Ambivalent Stereotypes of Competence and Warmth,” Journal of Social Issues 55, no. 3 (Fall 1999): 473–89.
24. Amy Cuddy, Susan T. Fiske et al., “Stereotype Content Model across Cultures: Towards Universal Similarities and Some Differences,” British Journal of Social Psychology 48, no. 1 (March 2009): 1-33.
25. Smithers, A New Excalibur.
29. Wik, “The American Farm Tractor.
30. Strauss, “Ten Inventions That Inadvertently Transformed Warfare.”
31. Smithers, A New Excalibur.